Freshmen participate in sociology study

first_imgFitbits, the activity tracking wristbands, have become a popular identifying feature of Notre Dame freshmen this year. Five hundred Fitbit-wearing freshmen are participating in a study called NetHealth, which aims to explore the relationship between social networks and health.Notre Dame sociologists David Hachen and Omar Lizardo, in conjunction with University computer scientists Aaron Striegel and Christian Poellabauer, are conducting the study. Hachen said the National Institute of Health is funding the study through a $3 million grant.“The National Institute of Health is very interested in the social conditions that influence peoples’ behaviors, like sleep, diet and activity,” Hachen said.According to the NetHealth website, the Fitbit devices will be used to track each student’s sleep and fitness, while a monitoring app on their smartphones will record social activity. The study therefore attempts to find a connection between social activity and health, one already seen by freshman Brian Quigley, who is participating in the study.“I can see my friends on Fitbit and how many steps they have, and so I always want to have more steps than them,” Quigley said. “It’s a way to compete in a friendly manner.”Hachen said he believes “our patterns and health related behaviors are amplified by the people we hang out with.” The challenge, though, he said, will be determining the direction of the causality between friendship and health.“The biggest puzzle is we believe we are affected in our behaviors, attitudes, and taste by who we hang out with,” Hachen said. “… It’s also the case that we tend to choose as our friends people that are similar to us, so we’re trying to disentangle whether your networks are influencing you, or you select the networks to be like you.”In looking to solve that puzzle, Striegel said one of the major questions in this study is, “Do you conform to the group, or do you change the group?”Hachen said the researchers plan to note changes in each student’s social groups over time, which is made possible by the continuous data collection from the Fitbits and smartphones.“People’s networks are much more fluid than most social scientists have ever thought,” Hachen said. “So we want to look at how people’s networks change, because if I’m not healthy and I hang out with someone who is healthy, I could become more healthy, or I could stop hanging out with them. I could change my network.”Hachen also said the study’s use of Fitbits and smartphones will make it more accurate than similar past studies, which usually rely only on surveys for information.“On surveys, you may not tell the truth, you may not remember or recall your social networks. … By this method, we get continuous, reliable data that’s probably better than the self-reports that come from surveys.”In addition, Striegel said the study can be used to “improve the health of the network,” since the researchers receive data on how many times people try and fail to connect to the network in different locations on campus, thus allowing them to identify the network’s weaker points.Hachen said in the next few months the study will be expanded to include about 400 more students — without Fitbits — who, through smartphones and surveys, will further contribute to the data collection. Further, Hachen said in the future he hopes to perform the same study at different universities and with different age groups.Tags: Fitbit, NetHealth, sociologylast_img read more

Combine Home Improvement With Lower Energy Bills In Thurston County

first_imgSubmitted by Northwest Energy TeamGet the Facts at April’s Home Efficiency Action TrainingWeather is warming up (wasn’t that a fabulous weekend?) and the hardware stores are crowded with ambitious, determined people. Before you tackle this year’s major home improvement project, think about how you can add some energy efficient upgrades as well.Oftentimes an energy efficiency upgrade is simple and inexpensive – especially if you’re already planning to crawl around under your house to check the insulation or tearing into a wall. The trick is knowing what to do, when to do it and in what order. AND knowing what is going to give you the most return for your investment.Researching energy efficiency upgrades is absolutely the way to go. And it’s also a way to get completely overwhelmed by facts – often with facts that don’t have anything to do with weather and home conditions in the Olympia area.If you’re the kind of person that likes getting an overview of facts first and then getting into the details, you have a resource at this month’s Home Efficiency Action Training (HEAT), Thursday, April 4, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Lacey Community Center. This workshop is free and open to the public.HEAT workshops are dedicated to education. You will learn:How to evaluate what your home needs.How to find out what you can do yourself to improve your home’s energy performance.How to tell if you may need more technical assistance.Basic information on the 100+ rebates, credits, and incentives available through Puget Sound Energy and Energy Star.What improvements give the best return for your time and money.How you can work your way to better energy performance – you can’t buy your way there.This is also a good workshop for anyone actively looking for a “used” home in the area – or anyone putting their home on the market. Frequently buyers find a great house in the perfect neighborhood and then get turned off when they find (for example) the home has baseboard heat.Dealing with things like sadly inefficient heating systems is not the issue it once was. You will learn what to look for when shopping for a home – what is affordably deal-able and what should make you stop and think a little more.Brent Foster of Northwest Infrared will be the first speaker. He will give his classic “$40 and a Grubby Weekend” talk on covering DIY energy efficiency improvements.Then Paul Ivy of Northwest Energy Team will speak on ductless heat pumps: how they work and the data to tell whether one would pay off for your home.Puget Sound Energy will be on hand (hopefully; they are installing a new system this week and it’s all hands on the PSE deck) to give their usual in-depth information of their massive numbers of Re-Energize rebates. If you are going to tackle a home improvement project, wouldn’t it be great to know if there was a rebate connected to it?Marilyn Ball-Brown of Generations Credit Union will give some basic information on low-interest “green improvement” home loans. If you have a major remodel planned, this is a chance to check on some financing options.The last speaker is Kirk Haffner of South Sound Solar. He does this great “Solar 101” talk which covers how to evaluate your own site for solar potential, addresses the basics of how solar works and then gives you the skinny on the credits, rebates and incentives. Pretty sweet.Bring pen, paper and questions to the Lacey Community Center this Thursday, April 4 (6 – 8 p.m.) and get some clear guidance. For questions contact Paul Ivy at 360-357-9167 or Paul@NorthwestEnergyTeam.com . All HEAT workshops are for your information’s sake and do not involve sales at all. Facebook26Tweet0Pin0last_img read more